USDA has acknowledge its "competing internal objectives" of managing pest risks while facilitation agriculture trade in a post-NAFTA "new world" . This has led to the hasty construction of a poorly designed and labor-intensive system for the importation of Mexican avocados into the U.S. that simply WILL NOT WORK!
The proposed system is without scientific foundation and lacks the necessary support to ensure successful implementation. USDA MUST produce conclusive evidence that it can effectively mange the risk associated with ALL of the quarantine pests before security assessment is meaningful. The proposal FAILS this test and places the $1 billion California avocado industry at EXTREME RISK!
OUR hearing attack
All five hearings are very important, but the Escondido hearing (California) is clearly where we need to produce the strongest possible showing. Political consultant Clyde Romney of Escondido has been retained to generate a strong presence at the Escondido hearing. Industry consultant Steve Peirce has also been added to the team for help with industry communications.
What follow is a brief summary of out ACTION PLAN for hearings outside California.
Hearing #1 Wash DC 8/17-18
Hearing #2 and #3 NY-CHI 8/22 & 8/28
Hearing # 4 Florida 8/23
WASHINGTON DC HEARING
LIMITED TO Science and we have assembled a powerful team of scientists to testify. Schedules are set and testimony is drafted. We are ready to begin the hearing process with a bang in Washington. The gold here is to create the scientific foundation for out industry's arguments. CAC Vice President Tom Bellamore will manage the overall attack and attend the hearing along with Chief Washington,DC counsel Edward Ruckert.
New York & Chicago Hearings
Designed to capture an "in-market" reaction to the USDA proposal. Again CAC is coordination the effort and we have assembled a strong slate of speakers to testify. Since the focus here is in the market from a produce perspective,we are using industry handlers Al Vangelos and Bob Lucy to spearhead the effort in those markets and schedule speakers. CAC Chairman Charley Wolk will represent the industry's growers and CAC VP Tom Bellamore will attend and manage the effort. Our goal here is to deliver the operational arguments plus economic arguments on the projected impacts to California growers. In addition, we'll be pushing hard to expose "real world" enforcement weaknesses overlooked by USDA.
Designed to give growers in that area a chance to express their views on the proposal and its impact on them. CAC Staff is coordinating this effort by helping the Florida industry frame arguments and assemble scientific resources for the hearing. That effort is working well and plans are in place to deliver very strong testimony. CAC VP Tom Bellamore is the lead coordinator and will attend the hearing.
Our goal is to present a compelling and crushing array of arguments that forces USDA to significantly improved and tighten its proposed "System" BEFORE shipments of Mexican avocados are allowed into the U.S.
California Department of Food & Agriculture
Western Growers Association
California Farm Bureau Federation
Kathleen Thuner, SD AG. Commissioner
Earl McPhail VC AG. Commissioner
Sunkist and other producer groups.
Other experts that did not testify in Washington DC.
Industry at press time
Charley Wolk and Mark Affleck CAC
Larry Rose California Avocado Society
George Farrely..Al Guilin..Bob Tobis ..Len Francis...Warren Henry...Hank Brokaw...Sam Perricone...Lee Cole...Paul Leavens..Al Vangelos...Steve Barnard..Mike Browne..Phil Henry.. Avi Crane...John Schmidt.
Supervisor Bill Horn...California Senators Kelly &Haynes. California Assemblyman Thompson.